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How to Get 100% VA Disability Rating for PTSD
How to Get 100% VA Disability Rating for PTSD
What Is PTSD?
PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder. This condition is a struggle faced by many Veterans in the wake of witnessing the horrors of war. PTSD was long trivialized and downplayed, but the condition started receiving the legitimacy that it warrants during and after the Vietnam War.
A number of factors can cause Post-traumatic stress disorder. It doesn’t only affect Veterans — the condition is often experienced by victims of sexual or physical assault, victims of childhood abuse, survivors of serious accidents, and individuals in the aftermath of a major natural disaster.
How Common is PTSD in Veterans?
PTSD is not something to feel ashamed of. Military service takes extreme bravery and courage, but no matter how courageous someone is, no one can endure intense combat without being affected. According to the VA, PTSD is common among Veterans, affecting both men and women in high numbers.
Women serving in the military have recently been diagnosed with PTSD in higher numbers. This increase in PTSD diagnoses may be due to the increase of servicewomen involvement in intense combat in the last few decades. In addition, many women on the frontlines in the war in Afghanistan were left with military sexual trauma (MST). Sexual trauma often leads to PTSD for many men and women, regardless of whether it is endured in childhood or adulthood.
What Are the Symptoms of PTSD?
There are four main categories for the symptoms of PTSD. The condition can manifest itself differently from person to person, but all of these symptoms can indicate post-traumatic stress:
- Reliving: This set of symptoms of PTSD encompasses flashbacks, nightmares, and trouble sleeping due to trauma. Someone suffering from PTSD may experience frequent and disturbing flashbacks that cause elevated stress and anxiety. In addition, traumatic experiences can often cause nightmares and insomnia.
- Avoidance. After a traumatic experience, a person may deliberately try to avoid anything that brings back troubling memories. Memories related to a traumatic experience can cause intense stress and anxiety, and a sufferer of PTSD may go to great lengths to remain detached from these memories.
- Restlessness and Anxiety. Anything that reminds a sufferer of PTSD of their traumatic experiences can cause the person to become hypervigilant and anxious. PTSD can make a person feel perpetually restless, like something is always very wrong. Sufferers of PTSD often feel a sense of imminent danger.
- Negative thoughts and feelings. PTSD can cause a deep depression to set in. After experiencing something traumatic, you may feel responsible and therefore guilty, or simply feel numb.
Help For PTSD: When and How to Get It
If you are a Veteran struggling with symptoms that you think may be related to PTSD, visit your local VA center or get a referral to a psychologist for a diagnosis. To receive a PTSD diagnosis, you will need to take an in-depth assessment by a mental health professional. Honesty is key when you take your PTSD assessment. Don’t downplay your symptoms. This could cause the VA to assign a rating that is lower than you deserve.
Once you have received a PTSD diagnosis from a professional, you can start treatment. PTSD is a struggle, but treatments tend to be highly effective in many circumstances, particularly medication and therapy.
Counseling for PTSD can be a major help in the recovery process. A licensed mental health professional can help you process and unpack your trauma in a safe environment through the use of one of several highly effective forms of counseling. Multiple forms of therapy can effectively treat PTSD, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and prolonged exposure therapy.
Medication can also be a big help when you are dealing with PTSD symptoms. A subcategory of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) is commonly prescribed to people with PTSD to reduce the severity of symptoms. These medications can increase the levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in your brain, which helps you manage your mood and keeps negative thoughts from becoming overwhelming. When you are suffering from the painful symptoms of PTSD, SSRIs like Prozac and Zoloft can provide much-needed relief.
Through a combination of consistent therapy and taking an SSRI, you can see significant improvements in your PTSD symptoms.
Help For PTSD: Getting VA Disability Benefits
If you are a Veteran suffering from symptoms of PTSD and have received a diagnosis, you may be eligible to receive compensation from the VA. The VA deems sufferers of PTSD eligible for tax-free disability benefits if they have a diagnosis and can verify that their traumatic experience was service-related.
When you are hoping to obtain disability benefits from the VA for PTSD, you need to be able to confirm that service-related trauma has had a negative impact on your life. Chances are, though, if you are experiencing diagnosable symptoms of PTSD, your life is being negatively affected by your trauma. The VA will give you a disability rating based on the severity of your case. Based on your disability rating, which will be between 0% and 100%, you can receive lower or higher benefits.
How to Qualify for PTSD Disability Benefits
To see if you qualify for disability benefits from the VA for PTSD, you can apply online, visit a local VA office, or mail in a form. The first step to take after applying for benefits is to get an exam from your local VA center. The VA will use the results from this exam, called a Compensation and Pension exam, to determine your eligibility. However, if the VA denies you benefits based on your exam results, you can appeal their decision and submit an Independent Medical Examination to the VA and dispute their results.
A doctor’s professional assessment of your symptoms can play a key role in changing the VA’s ruling on your eligibility for disability benefits. Your doctor can help you make a strong case to the VA that you should be eligible for benefits by providing an independent medical examination. The information provided by your doctor in an IME can help to give the VA substantial grounds to provide you with disability benefits for PTSD.
In addition to help from your doctor in your case for disability benefits eligibility, your friends can help, too. The VA takes “buddy statements,” testimonials from trusted friends who know you well and can attest to your condition, seriously. If your fellow servicemen or other close friends who have seen the impact your PTSD has had on you can provide statements to the VA, you can have a better chance at a more accurate disability rating.
What If The VA Doesn’t Grant Benefits?
If you disagree with the VA’s ruling on your case, we can help you successfully navigate the appeal process. You can make an appeal based on a disability rating that you think is too low or based on a refusal from the VA to grant you any disability benefits. Many of our team members are Veterans themselves, seeking to help other Veterans get the resources they need.
In addition, you can seek a higher disability rating for PTSD if your symptoms worsen over time. A major aspect of the VA’s assessment of your eligibility for a certain level of benefits is the severity of your condition. If you start experiencing more severe symptoms of PTSD, it is worth it to seek a higher rating from the VA. To get the rating that you deserve, we can help you put together a strong case for your eligibility for increased benefits.
Getting a 100% Disability Rating from The VA
The appeal process for obtaining the highest possible disability rating can be complicated and frustrating. However, with the help of a competent and caring attorney, you can make a strong case for a high rating from the VA.
The VA grants a higher disability rating based on a combination of multiple disabilities connected to military service. In other words, if you are suffering from not just PTSD but another condition as well, your disability rating from the VA can increase significantly.
Mental health struggles connected with military service, including PTSD, depression, bipolar disorder, and more, are often among the most likely disabilities to receive too low of a VA rating. To make sure that you receive the benefits that you deserve, you can make an appeal with the support of one of the Berry Law’s committed team of attorneys. Our team knows the struggles that many Veterans face firsthand, and each of our attorneys is ready and able to help you get an accurate and fair ruling from the VA.
Established in 1965 by Vietnam War veteran and attorney John Stevens Berry Sr., Berry Law Firm is a team of veterans dedicated to defending, safeguarding, and fighting to protect the rights of veterans. Over the decades, thousands of veterans from across the country and all branches of the military have trusted our firm with their cases and, more importantly, their futures.